Feathers in the
ong before my spiritual alignments would have a
chance to stray as a young man, my parents took out
spiritual insurance by having me baptized. With a
blessing and a few drops of holy water dripping from my fore-
head, I had been initiated into the flock of the Presbyterian
church of Ann Arbor, Michigan. As fate would have it, one
year later my best friend, whom I would meet five years in
the future, would be baptized at that very same church.
Robin Lacy and I met when we were six-year-old boys in a
sand pile at the site of the new home his parents were build-
ing in my neighborhood. From that day forward we were best
friends sharing the bond and kinship of brothers for life.
This past fall, driving through the countryside on the
way to my deer stand, I passed a small woodlot I had often
hunted as a young man with my friend. I couldn’t help but
Robin with his first deer shot on our debut bowhunt
in the woodlot, 1966.
2. Traditional Bowhunter® Apr/May 2023 57
notice how the landscape had changed and grown into
mature forest over the past decades, not unlike the two
young boys that were captivated by the magic and challenge
of traditional bowhunting long ago. As I drove on, my mind
began to wander to my youthful beginnings as an outdoors-
man and the many adventures Robin and I had shared as
young men growing up in southern Michigan.
Robin’s dad, Tom, grew up in Spokane, Washington, with
his best friend Chuck Kroll who would later become Bear
Archery’s Marketing Director (and Fred Bear’s son-in-law).
They spent their summers learning to hunt and fly fish
while exploring the wilds of the Kaniksu mountains in
northern Idaho and Washington. We were 10 years old when
Mr. Kroll, who was a frequent visitor to Robin’s home, gifted
Robin and I with our first laminated recurve hunting bows
for Christmas—a 35# Bear Kodiak Magnum for Robin and a
37# Bear Tigercat for me. Chuck always took the time to tell
us stories of his hunts with Fred Bear, and on several occa-
sions brought a movie projector and personally narrated
films of the hunts which we devoured in every detail, sitting
spell bound on the living room floor. He encouraged and
mentored us to become bowhunters. We spent endless hours
practicing our shooting skills on cardboard deer silhouettes
at a range we had set up behind my house in anticipation of
being able to hunt when we turned 12 (which was the mini-
mum age for bowhunting in Michigan at the time).
We received patient mentoring and sage advice at fre-
quent intervals during our childhood from Robin’s father in
the nuances of bowhunting, fly-fishing, and wing-shooting. It
would be a fair statement to say that if it had feathers on it
we were either launching them into the wind or trying to
shoot them out of the sky as we immersed ourselves in the
enchantment and simplicity of shooting traditional bows.
We devoured books and magazines about hunting and
fishing like they were religious scripture, and dreamt about
being part of that adventurous world someday. Publications
such as Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, and Archery,
became our guiding texts, resulting in our spiritual inclina-
tions becoming aligned with the wonder of the natural
world, and not so much the formal altars of a church. I think
the closest we ever got to being religious was believing that
Fred Bear could probably walk on water if he wanted to.
Dressed in camo clothing, we played endless games of kick
the can and war games with the other neighborhood kids on
warm summer evenings, and we got pretty good at sneaking
around in the woods.
In the fall of 1966, Robin’s dad brought us out to a farm
in Howell, Michigan, where he enjoyed hunting pheasants.
He had told us that he often saw deer near the woodlot on
the property and thought this might be the perfect place for
our first experience hunting whitetail deer with our bows.
The plan was for he and his hunting partner, John Moore, to
hunt pheasants on one end of the property and Robin and I
would hunt deer in the woodlot. A cool westerly wind deflect-
ed our scent away from the woods as we stalked slowly
through the thick copse of hawthorn and tawny amber
blades of switch grass transitioning toward the woodlot.
Looking back, I don’t think anyone had high expecta-
tions of us killing a deer with a bow that day, as after all this
The author, left, and Robin getting ready for a
March rabbit hunt as teenagers.
was our first walk in the woods as big game hunters and we
were just a couple of excited kids with bows. When we
entered the tall grass we jumped several does and we both
shot arrows in their general direction without connecting
with anything but air as they bounded into the woods. This
was our first taste of buck fever as we pretty much forgot
about all the practice and sage advice we had been given by
our mentors prior to the hunt. We quickly formulated a plan
for Robin to circle around to the far end of the small parcel
of timber and post himself against a tree while I would still-
hunt through the woods and possibly push the deer past his
stand. It worked; not 30 minutes into my stalk, I saw Robin
double-timing it down the fence row next to the woods
toward me shaking with joy and missing an arrow from his
bow quiver. With a big grin on his face, he told me he had put
an arrow right through the ribs of a doe at 15 yards as it
walked past his position, then ran off into a brushy thicket
where it disappeared.
We rushed over to where his dad and John were hunting
birds and told them what had just happened. Robin’s dad
was so excited and proud as his son told him the story of how
our first bowhunt turned out. The trail was short as the doe
had only run 30 yards, leaving an ample blood trail for us.
The 35# Bear Kodiak Magnum had driven the 23-inch cedar
arrow tipped with a Bear Razorhead through her heart and
made for a quick, clean kill. Robin had now passed through
that mystical portal and rite of passage coveted by all new
hunters by harvesting his first deer, and I was thrilled to
have shared the experience with him.
We spent much of our formative years at a place we
referred to as “The Creek” which was a local drainage on the
edge of town. It was basically an overgrown urban thicket
with a ribbon of coffee-brown water running through it sur-
rounded by oozing muck, and the alluring scent of rotting
organic matter that held a special magic for us. In the spring
of the year, we rode the wild currents of the flooding creek on
logs and roamed and explored the modest urban forest
throughout our teen years, emulating the woodsmen we read
about in books. It was our Middle Earth and theater of
adventure. I have foggy recollections of there being an occa-
sional abstinence from the rule of law as we perfected our
marksmanship skills on targets of opportunity such as frogs,
songbirds, and the local chipmunk population during those
early years as nimrods. We would spend many memorable
evenings in this sanctuary enjoying campfires together,
peering into the sizzling flames of our youthful imaginations
while hatching plans for adventure. Plans and dreams that
in later years would become a reality as we spent decades
together bowhunting and fly fishing in the Midwest and
western mountain states.
Through our formative years we had at best a marginal
relationship with most academic endeavors, preferring to
keep ourselves immersed in the pursuit of outdoor activities,
which in later years would help ground us in the instincts of
our primordial past as hunters and gatherers as we navigat-
ed life’s challenges. Alas, after each exciting, and largely
unsupervised summer we would become what might best be
described as feral and would have to go through a period of
socialization before we reentered the educational system
As the years went by, we had become proficient
bowhunters, fly fisherman, and wing shooters and put those
skills to use often as we emerged into manhood in the late ’60s
and early ’70s. Eventually we settled down and acquired real
The author with his first whitetail.
4. Traditional Bowhunter® Apr/May 2023 59
jobs, married, and had families. As adults, we now lived 250
miles apart. Though we did not hunt together as often, we
always managed to put together several bowhunts or fly fish-
ing adventures every year to ground our friendship once again.
Robin was married with two young sons, ran a success-
ful advertising business, and had become a published writer
in several magazines when his life took a horrible detour. In
his early 40s he became very ill with bipolar manic depres-
sion and disappeared into the abyss that is severe depres-
sion, including alcohol, drugs, and other self-destructive
behavior that often besets people afflicted with severe men-
tal illness. The collateral damage was catastrophic as his life
derailed, and he lost his family, his business, and all hope of
surviving his demons. He spent almost a decade in the pur-
gatory of mental illness including suicide attempts, rehab,
therapy, relapses, and a period of homelessness before ulti-
mately finding a path that would lead to his survival.
After many years, Robin slowly began to claw his way
out of the hell of depression and despair. I had lost contact
with him for several years, and no one seemed to know any-
thing about him. I was told by one of his family members
that he had probably died from complications of the depres-
sion and substance abuse. As fate would have it, one of my
sons was admitted to a rehab center in Petoskey, Michigan
where Robin had lived. My wife Sarah and I were visiting
our son when my heart stopped as I looked up and Robin
appeared from the dust of depression and was walking down
the sidewalk in the courtyard toward me with a big smile on
his face. We hugged, cried, and hugged some more as we
stood shaking with joy at our reunification. At that moment
I felt as if he had literally risen from the dead. He had been
staying at the facilities transition house across from the
rehab center and found out I would be there that day and
surprised me. My friend had been reincarnated from the
depths of hell and we were together again.
Robin had lost most of his possessions during his illness
so I gave him the Bear Kodiak recurve that I had shot my
first deer with so he could begin to reconnect with a place
that had always been a haven for us, places wild and undis-
turbed. He shot several deer with that bow, and I like to
think it was in some small way a catalyst in the journey to
rebuild his life.
Through his recovery Robin stayed true to his passions
as a young man; bowhunting, fly fishing, guiding, and the
desire to become a writer. There is no doubt in my mind that
Robin achieved many of his dreams as he became a
renowned fly fishing and bird hunting guide, and an exem-
plary writer for some of the most prestigious outdoor maga-
zines and sporting journals in North America. Robin’s for-
tune had changed for the better and the future was looking
bright when he met his future wife, Diane, whom he married
in 2008. He had found his soul mate, and she became his
North Star as he rebuilt his life with a new partner.
On the night of June 21, 2009, Robin had gone fly fish-
ing on the Maple River with a friend. The mayflies were
The author, Chuck Kroll, and Robin Lacy sharing
hunting stories over a glass of wine.
Robin and the author in their early 50s on the last
bowhunt they would share together in Michigan’s
hatching at their peak that week, and drifting large dry flies
across the river’s surface at night was the best way to hook
up with an exceptionally big brown trout on the Maple. It
was after 1 a.m. and Robin had not returned to the car at the
agreed upon time. Unable to locate him and with no
response to his calls, a search and rescue team was called,
led by a friend that knew Robin’s favorite beats on the river.
He was found a short time later at his favorite beat, his life-
less body leaning against a log on shore, his fly rod rigged
and ready. He had died of a massive heart attack doing what
he loved in a place that he loved to be.
Though I know he felt alone for many years during his
illness, there were over 100 people at his services all touched
in some way by his special karma. Sometime later, his wife
Diane graciously gave me the Kodiak bow I had given Robin,
and a few other special possessions of Robin’s to keep in
memory of our friendship. I had lost a brother and kindred
spirit that will never be replaced.
I can still trace the edges of childhood memories some-
times as I sit in my stand watching the daylight leak from the
evening sky. The adventures and the bond we shared as kin-
dred spirits were all part of the amazing journey we had as
lifelong friends. Several years ago, I decided to take the Kodiak
recurve we had shared on one last hunt in memory of my
friend before retiring it forever.The special place I chose for the
hunt was a walnut tree I’ve hunted out of for 20 years that has
always had a grounding effect on my spirit as I sat embraced
by its limbs. A small flock of geese honked overhead as they
flew through the cobalt-colored sky in the chilled October air.
The sun was teetering on the horizon like a golden globe, its
angular shafts of light creating long shadows on the earth
below me. The chatter of a red squirrel scolding something
alerted me just before the silent image of a buck appeared like
a ghost from a thicket 10 yards to my right. It was as if the
Earth momentarily held her breath in anticipation of my shot,
then exhaled as I shared one final moment with my friend lis-
tening to the feathers in the wind as the arrow traveled to its
mark. The amber-bodied buck melted into the dried yellow
stalks of corn with an arrow through its heart.
The author is the Marketing Director of Dardevle spoons
and a freelance outdoor writer. When he’s not bowhunting or
fishing, he stays in shape for his next adventure by competing
in triathlons. He lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan, with his wife
The author with the buck he shot on his last hunt
with the shared Bear Kodiak recurve.
The author used a 50# Bear Kodiak recurve with cedar
arrows and Bear Razorheads.